An innovative fashion marketing idea kickstarted this creative's film career

26 September 2021 - 00:01
Ntando Ndlovu and Octavia Benecke in a still from 'The Mulholland Club', which he co-directed with Lerato Ntombela.
Ntando Ndlovu and Octavia Benecke in a still from 'The Mulholland Club', which he co-directed with Lerato Ntombela.
Image: Supplied

Ntando Ndlovu did not attend film school; he doesn't own fancy equipment and he's mostly self-taught - but that hasn't stopped him from setting his sights on an Oscar nomination.

When Ndlovu left school he didn't know where to turn. He didn't have the funds for tertiary education and found a job in the industrial sector. Uninspired, he decided to take a leap of faith and start work on something that did inspire him. He turned to fashion.

He founded a clothing brand called LOVO - inspired by the idea of achieving your dreams and overcoming obstacles - for which he designed his own website.

To promote it, he produced a short film called The Mulholland Club which he co-directed with Lerato Ntombela.

WATCH | The Mulholland Club (short film)

Ever the dreamer, he submitted the film to festivals. Despite having no expectations, he won a Best Editing award from the Madras Independent Film Festival in India.

"This was phenomenal because I didn't have any experience," Ndlovu says. "It was an amateur film but it still did very well."

The 22-year-old also reached a semi-finalist position at the Cult Movies International Film Festival in the UK in the category of Best First Time Filmmaker; was selected as a finalist in the Best Short Film Category at the 4th Dimension Independent Film Festival in Indonesia; and was nominated for Best Short Film at the Red Movie Awards, a monthly competition in France open to international filmmakers.

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Ndlovu started reading books on film. "I would watch a movie and make notes. And I'd go and look behind the scenes."

His next step was to write a screenplay, Voided, which was selected as a semi-finalist in the Best Screenplay category at the Flickers' Rhode Island International Film Festival in the US, an achievement Ndlovu is particularly proud of as it's an Oscar-qualifying film festival.

He also received a special mention for Voided from the Madras Independent Film Festival; the screenplay was nominated for Best Screenplay at the Golden Wheat Awards; and reached a quarter finalist position for Best Screenplay at the WIKI Screenplay content in the US.

"Voided shines light on people with mental issues and the characters are diverse in race, age and so forth. I put them all in one story," Ndlovu says.

Because of the nominations, he got funding and hopes to start shooting at the end of 2022. In the meantime, he's working on releasing another short film next year called Her, Always and Forever.

There are a lot of art mediums but I think film changes people
Ntando Ndlovu

"My mom wasn't really behind me pursuing this career because it's art," he says, adding that most parents want a more predictable career path for their children.

"If someone goes to school and does what they want to do and it works out for them, that's great, but that doesn't mean I need to go to school to do the same thing. It just means I need to be hungry, I need to be keen to learn as much I can.

"There are a lot of art mediums but I think film changes people."

He hopes to continue following his path in film and to one day be nominated for an Oscar.

"Winning at festivals is good, but what would have the same effect on me as winning an Oscar is if someone came to me and said, 'Your film changed me so much. It inspired me and made me want to do better'." 


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